Tucson City Council considering pawn shop fees

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In hard economic times, more people turn to pawn shops to raise money to pay the bills, but they may soon have to pay an extra fee for that service.

The Tucson City Council will consider that to help balance its budget.

The local pawn shop can be a buyer and seller's dream; with jewelry, musical instruments, and everything in between, sold at low prices.

But they're also a quick fix for those in need.  "I just wanted to put some gas in my gas tank. I had a necklace that one of my ex boyfriends gave me that i didn't want anymore, so i came to sell it," says Tucsonan Erin Chambers.

She received $36 for it, but a proposal being considered by the city council Tuesday would charge a fee to people who sell things or seek loans from pawn shops.

"It's gonna hurt our business. And when it hurts our business, it hurts the city," says Nimer Ganem of the Cashbox Jewelry Company.

Pawnbrokers such as Nimer Ganem call the fee unfair and discriminatory, "They're the poor people that need the money the most. So if they charge that fee, we're gonna have to pass it onto the people that deal with us."

The city, meanwhile, argues that these fees would go toward reimbursing costly staff hours that are associated with policing pawn shops

"Unfortunately stolen goods do move through many of these shops," says Tucson City Council Member Karin Uhlich.

But Uhlich says she met with the Tucson police chief and his staff Monday, and they're working to come up with a middle ground on the proposal, "There would be a one-time licensing fee for shops that have more than a thousand transactions per year, and then in addition, a one dollar per transaction charge."

It's a system she says is similar to that of Phoenix and Flagstaff.

But pawnbroker Gamen, "We don't feel we should pay anything."  And customer Erin Chambers, "I think they should have a system for it, but i don't necessarily think it should be to take people's money."  Don't want to follow the leads of those other Arizona cities.